Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A career in contrariness

Schooldays are, for me, not something I remember with any great pleasure. What I do remember with glee though, is the number of schools my mother was asked to remove me from. Now that is something I am rather proud of!

It started in pre-school (aged five) when I latched onto the security gate on entering the place, grabbing onto the bars with something like a death-grip and yelled blue murder.

The teacher, talking over my head as if I wasn’t there and couldn’t understand (adults often do this) assured my mother that I’d get tired of it and let go, so I didn’t. I stayed there and howled at anyone who tried to detach me.

After a few days of this, my mother was so traumatized by my routine, that she was quite relieved when the teacher suggested that I ‘wasn’t ready’ for pre-school.

The following year I entered grade one, ready-equipped with a reading ability that extended to taking in the newspaper and doing basic maths (my mother had taught me from the cradle). I was promoted to second grade as a result, but it was awfully boring.

It was then that I discovered that I needn’t have a single schoolbook. I was kept in after class, lectured and remonstrated with, but it made no difference at all. Besides, it was fun baffling the grown-ups. I never argued with them, just did (or didn’t do) as I pleased. So mum was asked to remove me from that school by the time I reached grade 4.

I was in such trouble about that, that I toed the line for a while, but Grade eight saw me at a school that required me to wear a beret, name-badge and house badge.

It wasn’t deliberate, but I succeeded in being without at least one of the three at any given time and my mother was informed that I ‘refused to obey the school rules’. This, together with my academic habits (which rapidly re-surfaced), saw my mother once again being asked to take me out of the school. She did, which brings me to grade 9.

At that school, I was taken to a school psychologist for reasons similar to those mentioned above. I was declared depressingly ‘normal’ by a bored looking psychologist. Thus I was not only recalcitrant but uninteresting. My mother was once again required to move me.

It was then that she lit on the idea of placing me in a school that would offer maximum freedom. There were no uniforms, or silly rules, or compulsory activities and passing or failing were entirely up to you. I thrived. I did really, really well for the first time in my entire school career and was allowed to do grades 11 and 12 in one year.

It was private school which accepted children no other school would touch: children with multiple expulsions behind their backs, pregnant school girls, children with police-records. I couldn’t possibly be as ‘bad’ as the other children there, so I marked my individuality by being the very best student.

Its fun being contrary, don’t you think?

Todays pic: a cat - the model of contrariness!


  1. I must say, it sure sounds like your Mother was in your corner. It was the school of maximum freedom in which you thrived. That certainly fits with my view of you! Many artists need that kind of freedom. Force an artist to conform and you get rebellion. Seems perfectly natural.
    I have two orange tabby's, so your photograph is like home! Cats are the epitome of free spirited rebellion. Dave, one of my orange tabby's, ran from me for years whenever I cooed at him. Then one night, out of pure frustration, I lifted my arms and made a deep growling sound, aarrrgghhhh! at him. He rushed to my side. So now, I act like a mean monster and he loves it every time. Contrary indeed!

  2. Interesting childhood. I picture you latched onto the security gate.

  3. Well that turned out to be a pretty diverse and interesting education then! I grew up in a small town and stayed in the same school system all the way through.

    I think I would have done well at being home schooled though. Mostly because I really hated school and never developed any social skills. ;-)

  4. I went to a school just like this & I did pretty well & not because it was easy but the teachers seemed so much better & I learned a lot.

  5. PAMO: You're brilliant! I can picture you 'talking rough' to your ginger, and him loving it! This one is also contrary, because he's big and masculine and tough, but just loves being cuddled and having his fur rubbed the wrong way.

    HW: Yes, I was a beastly child! Cute, so I got away with it :)

    Jay: And look at you now, king of the bolggosphere and admired by all!

    Karl: Its amazing what one can do when no-one's pushing you! Freedom rules!